Predation on wild and hatchery salmon by non‐native brown trout (Salmo trutta) in the Trinity River, California
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Predation on wild and hatchery salmon by non‐native brown trout (Salmo trutta) in the Trinity River, California

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  • Journal Title:
    Ecology of Freshwater Fish
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    Non‐native predators may interfere with conservation efforts for native species. For example, fisheries managers have recently become concerned that non‐native brown trout may impede efforts to restore native salmon and trout in California's Trinity River. However, the extent of brown trout predation on these species is unknown. We quantified brown trout predation on wild and hatchery‐produced salmon and trout in the Trinity River in 2015. We first estimated the total biomass of prey consumed annually by brown trout using a bioenergetics model and measurements of brown trout growth and abundance over a 64‐km study reach. Then, we used stable isotope analysis and gastric lavage to allocate total consumption to specific prey taxa. Although hatchery‐produced fish are primarily released in the spring, hatchery fish accounted for most of the annual consumption by large, piscivorous brown trout (>40 cm long). In all, the 1579 (95% CI 1,279–1,878) brown trout >20 cm long in the study reach ate 5,930 kg (95% CI 3,800–8,805 kg) of hatchery fish in 2015. Brown trout predation on hatchery fish was ca. 7% of the total biomass released from the hatchery. Brown trout only ate 924 kg (95% CI 60–3,526 kg) of wild fish in 2015, but this was potentially a large proportion of wild salmon production because wild fish were relatively small. As large brown trout rely heavily on hatchery‐produced fish, modifying hatchery practices to minimise predation may enhance survival of hatchery fish and potentially reduce the abundance of predatory brown trout.
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    Ecology of Freshwater Fish, 28(4), 573-585
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    Accepted Manuscript
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